Oil Painting Technique #3 - Broken colour

This Oil Painting technique is the application of paint in short, separate strokes, dabs and swirls. An image can be built up in this way without blending. Colour can be applied in as many layers as you wish. The impressionist Claude Monet (1840-1926) was a great practitioner of broken colour

Broken colour requires distinct colours that are not muddied into others. I must tell you I rarely complete a picture using only this technique but I do make use of it extensively alongside other methods you will see in other tutorials.

This example was completed with a #6 round brush and a #1 and #3 filbert.

Follow this free tutorial carefully.

1, Cover an area loosely with a flatbrush, here I use a mix of cobalt blue and white.

Oil Painting Techniques

2, With a round brush dab paint quickly with a slightly lighter colour. Here I have added more white to the first mix.

3, Continue to build up with dabs and swirls going over areas at random but always with quick movements of your brush. Switch to a filbert, as described above, to make different shapes.

4, See my close up. The paint has a pleasing texture that captures and scatters light.

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Please take a look at the landscape painting below, a rare work where I used Broken Colour only. Working with very small dabs and utilising the same technique I built this realistic painting.

I worked over the entire painting a total of thirteen times. An effort well worth the result. Even long features like branches are made up of individual dabs. There is no blending or glazing. I used filbert and round brushes to make varied strokes.

Study the close ups.

As you can see the whole is made up strokes that overlap but do not mix other than the occasional accident. The shapes of the two girls and the other forms look realistic from a distance. This is achieved by the sheer size of the painting and the fact that I use small brushes. I used exactly the same brushes as we have just used in the exercise above. The scale of your work and brush size are very important if you want to work in a realistic style.


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